Monday, August 29, 2011

mango cake & green curry paste

My mom celebrated her 62nd birthday this August and I wanted to make her a unique dinner and dessert for her special day.

Her dessert request for our sweet teeth? Fresh mango.

My first instinct was to make a clafouti and although I knew it would taste delicious, I wasn't sure how it would photograph for such a festive occasion. A cherry clafouti would be the better visual choice but I had to stick to my mango guns.

A not-too-sweet cake flecked with fresh mango became my inspiration. I searched around and fell across this recipe. After a few tweaks with the frosting and an addition of sugared raspberries to cut the sweetness (I adore mangos paired with raspberries), this was the perfect confection for the occasion.

Mexican Mango Birthday Cake
with Tequila & Sugared Raspberries

3 sticks unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pan
3 cups cake flour, plus more for dusting the pan
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 large eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup buttermilk

1 cup fresh mango, diced finely
1 cup granulated sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, plus additional, as needed*
2 Tablespoons tequila
*If the frosting is too wet from over-ripe mangos, add additional cream cheese to firm frosting up.

fresh raspberries, rolled in granulated sugar
edible flowers
birthday candles

Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Liberally butter and flour a Bundt pan.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. In another large bowl, using an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy-- approximately 7 minutes. Add the eggs, beating well after each addition. In batches, add the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk and ending with the flour mixture. Do not over-mix or cake well become tough.

Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan. Bake until the cake is golden and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and cool completely in the pan. Invert the cake onto the wire rack, then put it on a cake plate or platter.

Combine the mango, sugar, cream cheese and tequila with the whip attachment in the stand mixer. Blend until smooth and thick, adding additional cream cheese, if needed.

Spoon the mango topping evenly over the top of the cake and decorate with edible flowers and sugared raspberries.

After I frosted and decorated the cake, I went on to make dinner for four with the help of my father (aka THE Grill Master).

On the menu:

Spinach Salad with Avocado,
Grapefruit, Basil & Creme Fraiche

Grilled Filets of Beef with
Green Curry Cream Sauce (foodgasm!)
Grilled Asparagus

Herbed Jasmine Rice with Serrano Peppers

Delish! We were too famished for time.


Monday, August 15, 2011

a wedding day & grapefruit 3-ways

I recently had the pleasure of collaborating with local wedding planner Shannon Schultz of Shannon Schultz Events and local photographer Sara Donaldson with food and drink for a gorgeous French Ballet-inspired wedding photo shoot.

Also a part of the shoot was friend and calligrapher Lauren Essl of Blue Eye Brown Eye who hand-constructed the most beautiful calligraphy work to grace the shoot.

Let me just tell you...

These gals are intensively creative, dynamic and talented beyond belief. The breath-taking pictures definitely reflect this.

This was my first time collaborating for a photo shoot of this sort and we had a blast in the July Texas heat! Below are a sampling of pics from the Style Me Pretty blog post featuring the shoot.

All beautiful photos are courtesy of Sara Donaldson.

Rose quartz-hued table-settings fit for a Queen.
Courtesy of Shannon Schultz.

Elegant mismatched chairs from local Simple Things.

Gorgeous calligraphy à la Lauren Essl.

Vanilla Cupcakes with Grapefruit Cream Cheese Frosting

Rustic Grapefruit Tarts with Turbinado Sugar

Champagne & Grapefruit Cocktails with Thyme Syrup

What an ingenious cocktail "table"-- an antique drum!

Dainty ice cubes with edible flowers--
a delight to shoot in this Texas heat :)

I loved being a part of this lovely collaboration!